After Christmas, now is the perfect time to burn off some calories, catch up with friends and family, or plan New Year’s resolutions whilst enjoying an exhilarating walk. East Kent & Broadstairs have a wealth of fantastic trails to enjoy in both coast and country.
BROADSTAIRS: Why not start with a stunning walk along Stone Bay, directly across from The Bay Tree, with it’s stunning beach and spectacular chalk cliffs. Off course, one can continue towards Joss Bay, Botany Bay and Margate or, go towards Viking Bay (with Broadstairs’ restaurants and bars and Morelli’s ice cream and continue through to Dumpton Gap towards Ramsgate.
RAMSGATE: Ramsgate to Broadstairs There can be few more beautiful places to start a coastal walk than the 700-berth Royal Harbour Marina. Just 35 miles from the French coast and a skip and a hop away from attractions such as the Sailor’s Church, Jacob’s Ladder in Military Road, the RNLI Lifeboat Station and the Royal Temple Yacht Club, almost everything you want to see is within easy reach. Enjoy cafes like Miles Bar on the harbour front and the aptly named Nice Things, a bijou gallery, craft and gift shop inside The Custom House. Pick up the Thanet Coastal Path and go past the Royal Victoria Pavilion and Ramsgate Sands and (at high tide) head on to King George VI Memorial Park. Amble from the harbour. On your right will be the Channel and (on a good day) a truly spectacular view of the French coastline. Depending on the tide, you can either follow the route up on to the clifftop or down on to the beach at Dumpton Gap, where you will be rewarded with some stunning views – and a refreshing drink from a seasonal kiosk.
RAMSGATE: Ramsgate to Pegwell Bay walk – Contra Trail The Contra Trail – a gentle 6.1-mile (9.8km) walk leads past the hustle and bustle of modern Ramsgate, down the gently undulating Isle of Thanet Coastal path and into the natural peace and tranquillity of Pegwell Bay. Thanks to the wonderfully diverse range of pubs, restaurants and local attractions on the route, it’s one you can enjoy with a full belly and a spring in your step. Your walk begins in the heart of the only British harbour that can claim to be Royal and takes in elegant Georgian houses, traditional fishermen’s cottages, stylish terraced restaurants and busy pubs such as the Churchill Tavern. The promenade then becomes noticeably wider. Continue past the Lookout kiosk and the Boating Pool Café to Pegwell Road. Turn left here and follow the road past the Belle Vue Tavern, the old Coastguard Cottages and you will soon reach and cross the access road to the old Hoverport and emerge in a wide-open park area at Cliffs End. Follow National Cycle Route 15 down Sandwich Road and past the impressive replica Viking ship Hugin until the marshes of Pegwell Bay are on your left-hand side. Continue a little further and you enter Pegwell Bay Country Park
BIRCHINGTON: Minnis Bay to Reculver Country Park The entire length of the route is flat; however, a short alternative route can be taken to reach Reculver Towers and Fort with a steep 25 per cent climb and descent. The only benches along the route are near the start in Minnis Bay. The walk follows the Viking Coastal Trail, and mainly uses the concrete surfaced seawall. It is a linear walk of 3.7 miles one-way, or 7.4 miles, returning to the start. There is a visitor centre at Reculver.
OARE: A walk on the wild side Most of this walk follows the Saxon Shore Way and takes a step back into history, with much of the area being involved in the explosives industry for many years. You’ll be bowled over by breath-taking views across farmland, sweeping pasture and glistening wetlands, and by an internationally important bird sanctuary, grazed by livestock, as in days gone by. Shepherd Neame is one of Britain’s oldest brewery houses and much of the area pays homage to its industrious fortunes with numerous oast house and hop farms dotted around.
FAVERSHAM: Earth, Wind and Water Walk Upon leaving Faversham, you soon find yourself walking through open grazing pasture and arable fields with crops of wheat. Along the way there are apple orchards at Broom Street, a working strawberry farm at Goodnestone and hop fields that supply Shepherd Neame Brewery and are used to make some of Kent’s most famous beers such as Spitfire and Bishops Finger. You will escape from it all as the far-reaching views across Graveney Marsh open up around you. Water and land meet at many points along this route and it certainly provides some of the most fascinating and impressive landscapes as well as an ideal place to relax and unwind. The Swale Estuary and Faversham Creek are excellent locations to capture some stunning photographs.
CANTERBURY: Blean Wildart Trail – Kent Wildlife Trust Kent Wildlife Trust’s all-access art and sensory trail in Thornden Wood, between Canterbury and Herne Bay, uses natural local materials to create sustainable, non-invasive artwork that blends into the surroundings. The use of sustainable materials is essential on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and means that the artwork can evolve and change through the years; as pieces begin to decay, new artwork can be created and installed.
WHITSTABLE: Chestfield Walk Along this route you’ll find fantastic hilltop views over the village and towards the sea from the manicured greens of the Chestfield Golf Club. Along the walk you’ll pass a pass a manor house with the gory local legend that St Thomas More’s head is buried here. This was his daughter Margaret’s home and it is said that after he was beheaded by Henry VIII she buried his head in the gardens. A number of ancient houses are along the walk, formed from the old Tythe barn and embellished with church materials, including a magnificent stone rose window.
DOVER: Samphire Hoe The Samphire Hoe picnic site has been sympathetically landscaped and is well established. The park is a mass of wildflowers throughout spring and summer. Visitors in April and May can seek out the early spider orchids. Samphire Hoe has also become a key site for ground-nesting meadow pipits and skylarks. Look east towards Dover for a good view of the dramatic outline of Shakespeare Cliff. The walk has two distinct one-mile sections. One follows the seawall along smooth concrete, while the other passes through the middle of Hoe with good paths and some steep gradients. There are a number of resting points along this section. When the sea is rough, waves can come curling over the seawall. When it is too stormy, the seawall may be closed to the public temporarily.
DEAL: Walmer to Deal Castle The route offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy watching the busy English Channel as well as to take advantage of numerous local seaside attractions. Take in Walmer Castle and Deal Castle. Benches along this walk provide plenty of opportunities for rest and enjoying the views. There is a 40m access ramp (1:10 gradient with 1:25 cross slope) from the car park to the start of the route. The remainder of the path is firm and has a tarmac surface.
For more information on these walks and others, go to www.explorekent.org/activities